Called the "ghost county" of Oregon, Umpqua County existed for only 11 years from 1851 to 1862 before it was absorbed by Douglas County. There were four Sheriffs in the county during that brief period, but no information available on the men who upheld the law in the Southern Oregon county.

An increase in settlements along the Umpqua River in 1850 led to the establishment of a county government the following winter. The boundary line for the new county began on the Oregon coast at the southwest corner of Benton County and ran east to the dividing ridge of the Calapooia Mountains, following the ridge to Calapooia Creek and down the stream to its mouth and west to the Pacific.

By 1851, there was a marked change in the condition of the region. Many families were coming south from the Willamette Valley while numerous emigrants were moving in directly from the east. Nearly every little valley had one to half a dozen little settlements from Calapooia to the Rogue River.

The first officers of the county were named on June 2, 1851, when Henry Jacquith was appointed Sheriff. J. W. Drew was named Representative, J. W. Huntington was Clerk, A. German was Treasurer and A. Pierce was Assessor. The County Commissioners for the new county were B. J. Grubbe, J. N. Hull and William Golden.

A letter to The Statesman newspaper in Salem on July 4, 1851 talked about the new county: "Our county is organized, the machinery is set up and it will soon start. We need internal improvements very much, which it is supposed the new machinery will supply, but we ought not to expect too much."

In 1853, Coos County was formed from parts of Umpqua and Jackson counties.

The Umpqua County seat jumped for awhile between the settlements of Elkton and Scottsburg until 1854, when James F. Levins surveyed a 160-acre townsite at Elkton, which he donated to the fledgling county for a county seat. On Jan 30, 1855, the Legislature made it official when it passed an act locating the seat of justice for Umpqua County at Elkton.

But by 1862, Umpqua County was suffering. Scottsburg had lost its trade with the mines and soon became a small village and Elkton had not followed in the place of the downgraded metropolis. It was becoming too difficult to maintain a county government. On Oct. 16, 1862, Douglas County absorbed Umpqua County, with Roseburg as the county seat.

Henry Jacquith, the county's first Sheriff, resigned less than two years after being appointed to the position. He was replaced by Joshua A. Knowles in 1853, who served until 1855, when Samuel Rich was elected to the position.

Rich served until 1862, when F. M. Johnson was elected. Johnson was Sheriff for only thirteen months before the county dissolved.

Return to "A History of Oregon Sheriffs Index"
Return to "A Place Called Oregon"